A 31-year-old woman admitted to a hospital in Galway, Ireland, late last month with severe back pain was revealed to be miscarrying, but doctors repeatedly refused to abort the fetus.
Savita Halappanavar, who was 17 weeks pregnant at the time, eventually developed septicemia -- a life-threatening infection -- and she died in the intensive care unit a week later.
Praveen Halappanavar told the Irish Times that his wife, Savita, was suffering intense pain and had been told her baby would not survive. Upset but resigned to losing her child, she was denied an abortion despite repeated pleas with their Galway hospital as she suffered shakes and vomiting, Halappanavar told the newspaper.
“The consultant said it was the law, that this is a Catholic country. Savita said, ‘I am neither Irish nor Catholic,’ but they said there was nothing they could do,” Halappanavar told the newspaper from India.
Abortions are illegal in Ireland except in cases where the mother's life might be at risk.
The fetal heartbeat stopped on the third day, and the dead fetus was removed, but it was too late for Savita. Her condition worsened, and by Saturday she was in organ failure and died shortly after.
The hospital extended its sympathy to the Halappanavar family, but could not discuss any of the details of the case due to investigations underway by both the Health Service Executive, and an internal hospital investigation.